Day 10 of Demonstration: Today was not a good day

The demonstration was going along fine when suddenly an explosion occurred from behind the stage. Black smoke filled the air. For a moment, everyone seemed to be stunned and frozen. Then the crowd panicked and started running in different directions. Someone announced that the explosion was just an electrical explosion from a generator. The peace fence raised their hands in an attempt to calm everyone down and gestured to the soldiers standing behind the peace fence that everything was okay. Within five minutes, hundreds from the crowd broke through the peace fence line and ran directly up to the soldiers screaming at them and blaming them for what happened. Shortly after, demonstrators told the peace fence that a percussion bomb went off behind the stage. Accusations that the sound bomb was set the night before by people who want to destroy the demonstrations and Suleimaniya began to circulate.

The group of demonstrators who ran towards the soldiers behind our line was beginning to return towards the center. To the credit of these soldiers, they never raised their guns and with the exception of a few flying shoes, we did not see the demonstrators do anything more than scream at the soldiers.

For a few moments, there was hope that this might just calm down without any further incident but then the shooting began. The place quickly turned chaotic and many people, including the CPT-Iraqi Kurdistan team, ran into the bazaar. The shooting continued for a few moments and then the merchants in the bazaar asked everyone to leave because they wanted to close their shops for fear that the bazaar would be destroyed. We stood in the street for a few minutes trying to get our bearings when another crowd of people stormed down the street. In order to not be trampled, we moved back against the wall and let the crowd run by. We later learned that they were running in fear that the soldiers would start shooting and many roads were closed at this point so there were no really clear exits.

The team at this moment is home and safe, and local news reports one dead and eleven wounded. Violence in other cities is also being reported on local news. Other reports are coming in by phone and weblog, e.g., "my friend is calling me; he is excited and shouting. Karzan, you have to see this. Lots of protesters carrying rocks went toward the Peshmerga force and fight almost broke out again. But now they are making peace. Some members of the Peshmerga force are putting down their weapons and kissing the protesters. We are brothers and we won't shoot at you. Some (Peshmerga) are crying."